As leaders, we constantly have to make decisions. Every day there are countless decisions made, which impact or teams and mission. Good leaders understand the ramifications of decision-making and learn to use this power wisely.
In my experience, usually there are two immediate considerations when I am presented with the the opportunity to make a decision – fast or slow. Is this something I can or need to decide quickly or is it something for which we should proceed cautiously? Some decisions can (and should) be arbitrary decisions – decisions made very quickly. Others need to be calculated decisions – decisions made much slower. Growing to understand which type of decision-making to use at a given time will help you make better decisions and ultimately be a better leader.
According to dictionary.com, Arbitrary is based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system
Calculated is done with full awareness of the likely consequences; carefully planned or intended
I know leaders who have made very quick, instant, arbitrary decisions only to grow to regret them. (This leader being one.)
I know others, again including this one, who took too long to make a calculated decision and the delay was costly.
Here are 7 examples of thoughts which go into each type decision-making process:
- There is a serious and immediate threat or danger to people or the organization
- The perceived impact has a limited lifespan or is easily reversible
- The decision has a low cost or investment
- When the decision-maker is the implementer (this is a huge one in delegation)
- I have a sure “gut” about it, it’s a “no brainer”
- The same decision has been made many times
- We are doing an “experiment” attached to a set time
While this is not a checklist, using some of those type parameters, I weigh my options and try to make decisions as quickly as possible, knowing there will be another decision which needs to be made soon.
And, then, sometimes, even though we can be overwhelmed with the amount of decisions needed, sometimes we simply need to take our time.
- No serious threat exists to people or the organization – you don’t have to do this.
- There are longer-term implications – we will have to live with this a while
- Higher cost and greater human investment
- When other people will have to be the implementers – it impacts others more than the decision-maker
- When my gut isn’t at peace and I have no clear conviction
- The decision has been made very few times, if ever
- I haven’t consulted with a collection of wise voices – and there is time to do so
These are not foolproof and this is not an exhaustive lists in making decisions. Often we can make excuses to delay responding when in reality we know we need to make a decision. Other times we move so fast we never consider the impact on other people – people who have to live with the consequences of our decision. The main idea here is all decisions can’t be made at the same pace. Sometimes we move fast, with a very arbritrary decision. Sometimes we need to be very calculated in our response. Next time you have to make a decision, consider which method you should use for the occasion.
Do you see the difference in the two?
I should note, if God has made the answer clear you don’t need this post. Simply obey.